The lessons the coronavirus pandemic has taught me about life

It goes without question that right now, we are experiencing a major shift in our daily lives and this is a definitely a period that will remain a part of modern history and a significant time that each one of us has a story about of this time.

This year, I took my first steps of real adult independence; I moved out of my parents’ house and was excited to start a new chapter having my first full time professional role and moving into my own place. Excitedly, I ventured on a shopping spree which resulted in buying a new wardrobe filled with vintage designer blazers and stylish workwear that I was going to strut down Oxford Circus in with my reusable coffee cup every morning in my patent white heeled boots as the grown woman I has blossomed into. I spent hours on YouTube watching fashion lookbooks and make up tutorials to up level my look in this new decade. I also meticulously planned my finances and budget to be a financially responsible adult.

Then Corona, the nasty b that absolutely no one invited to the dinner party decided to show up and drop off her dish, causing havoc to millions of people’s lives across the world. I was left jobless but thankfully granted a rent holiday so I didn’t have to leave my new flat. Now my new wardrobe has stayed hung up in the wardrobe with me adopting comfy sweats as my daily attire to strut into the living room and kitchen instead.

My newly found, unexpected routine consisting of endless hours trying to find make sense of this new normal has resulted in heightened anxiety. After having a lengthy amount of time being out of work, I was elated to get back into the swing of regular life once I started working. Now, being forced to stay indoors and not being able to go to work, the gym, the shops or the club has left me sit alone with my thoughts… more than ever.

Spoiler alert: I’m the kind of person who absolutely crumbles with anxiety with having too much time alone with my thoughts *sighs*

One of the positives I’ve gained from this is learning life who am I without it all? I’m someone who genuinely enjoys working and having a busy schedule. I enjoy feeling like I’m progressing in life towards a tangible goal whether that’s preparing for an upcoming trip or saving up for something.
It keeps my mind focused than sitting and worrying about things which is what happens when I’m left alone with my thoughts. I always feel like I should be doing more. Doing more to be ahead in life, doing more to become a successful adult, doing more so I feel validated of my existence. Societal pressures in regular life make you feel that by the age of 25 you need to have it all figured out; the mortgage, the relationship, the social life, the pension plan and be getting enough sleep, drinking eight glasses of water a day, having a healthy diet and being in shape.

So, it’s not a shock that I measured my success was through work or it was through how well I physically looked. Now, I was cooped up indoors, I didn’t have the worry that my jeans did not fit meant I was slipping off track. Or that I wasn’t working full time mean I had failed at being a competent adult.

Despite it taking a toll to my mental health, it’s allowed me to step back and realise that even when you’re a competent adult who had got into shape, saved up and booked tickets to travel the world for the trip of a lifetime, moved out of your parents’ house into your new flat and land a great job in a swanky central London office…. life is still going to happen to you. Plans will be abruptly cancelled, viruses that cause a global pandemic will impact businesses and cause you to lose your job and you’re going to turn to food to comfort yourself whilst the governments have put the entire world on lockdown. It doesn’t mean you “lost” at life.

Now, for the first time ever (well, in my lifetime), the world has been forced to come to a standstill. There’s no way realistically you could have prepared for this unless you’re Raven Baxter. It’s not possible to have a six month plan of how you’re going to accomplish your 2020 vision goals – they are inherently tossed out the window until further notice.

It’s allowed me to refocus and redefine what it means to be successful as an adult. If you asked me six months ago, I would’ve said it would be being financially independent, getting a nice job in a career you can grow in and a killer blazer that makes you feel like a boss. I had finally reached a level I worked three years to get to, and guess what? Life still happened. I could now stop having this unrealistic pressure on myself that I was meant to have every step figured out. Which honestly, did not come easy at first – my flatmate had to reassure me that it was not my fault I lost my new job due to a deadly virus that had caused the world to go on lockdown and it did not mean I was an incompetent adult.

Right now is making me reevaluate what it means to be successful. The cold reality is that despite you reading a million self help books, reading all the career guides and life advice online and comparing yourself to your peers… truth is, you can’t have it all figured out. Everything is susceptible to change. The thing you think are most stable, like big corporations that gain high revenue are now faced with as much uncertainty as smaller, start up businesses. Being successful in life doesn’t mean having it all figured out, it’s about being able to have a positive mindset and adapt to any situation that comes your way.

Every week, institutions and governments are changing their rules and attitudes trying to figure out the next steps are like the rest of us. No one has all the answers and when it comes down to it you can only practice gratitude and rely on hope and prayers that things will get better.

It’s been a struggle – it’s been trying to get through to Universal Credit unsuccessfully after calling 70 times a day because the phones are jammed, trying to apply for jobs in a dwindling job market and trying to calm myself down from having panic attack when stepping outside my house. However, I’ve been trying to make the effort to reconnect with my faith and focus on the small things of life that give me peace (which are right now the most stable things). For example, reading a bible plan, listening to church sermons, cooking yourself a really healthy meal, Facetiming your loved ones and having a proper catch up, getting an hour’s exercise everyday, doing your laundry, giving your hair a nourishing deep conditioning treatment and delving into your creative hobbies.

I’m trying to maintain the perspective that all I can do is what I can control. I can only call so many times to Universal Credit and apply for as many jobs as there are available right now. I am not responsible for the economic situation out there. I’m prioritising serving myself and doing things that make me happy for the simple fact that it makes me happy and that is most important. I’m giving myself to create time in the day to have passion projects simply for the point of that they make me happy. That is what I need from myself right now.

I urge you to find joy in the small things because when it comes down to it – these are the things that will help keep you sane during this difficult time. Those are the things that will nurture your happiness in the moment to help you get through each day until we’re out of this storm.

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